With only a handful of games remaining, the Ducks find themselves back in Edmonton, Alberta for tonight’s contest against the Oilers.
They were here just 10 days ago, on a night when they peppered goaltender Ben Scrivens with 51 shots, only to lose 4-3 in overtime. But since then, the Ducks have gone 3-1-0 to maintain a one-point lead over the second-place Sharks for the Pacific Division lead.
After tonight’s bout with the Oilers, the Ducks head to Vancouver for the second half of back-to-backs tomorrow night. Then, they return home to face the Sharks on Wednesday in what could be a division-clinching game for Anaheim.
Slow starts have plagued the Ducks as of late, and they’ll need to fix that in a hurry against a team with nothing to lose. Anaheim needed three third-period goals to beat Edmonton at Honda Center on Wednesday night against former teammate Viktor Fasth, and fell behind 3-0 to Nashville on Sunday in a 5-2 loss. It took the largest comeback in franchise history to defeat the Winnipeg Jets, 5-4 in overtime, last Monday.
"We can't let this happen. We have to find a way," said head coach Bruce Boudreau. "Sometimes, for one reason or another, we're not getting the job done early. We're a really good team with the lead, but we just haven't had the lead lately."
Defenseman Francois Beauchemin says it’s all about staying true to the game plan. “We’ve done it before,” he said. “When we follow the game plan, everything works and we’re winning games and playing good defensively. The last three games we’ve given up too many goals and been playing catch-up hockey.”
In net tonight will be Jonas Hiller. After the morning skate, Boudreau says he’s confident Hiller will have a bounce back performance after getting pulled in Friday’s loss to Nashville.
GIBSON, SMITH-PELLY RECALLED
Earlier today the Ducks recalled goaltender John Gibson and winger Devante Smith-Pelly from Norfolk of the American Hockey League. The moves were made in response to injuries to goaltender Frederik Andersen (upper body, did not travel with the team) and Tim Jackman (broken hand).
Gibson, 20 (7/14/93), appeared in 45 games with Norfolk this season, posting a 21-17-4 record with a 2.34 goals-against average (GAA), .919 save percentage (SV%) and five shutouts. At the time of his recall, Gibson ranked third among AHL goalies in GAA, seventh in SV%, second in shutouts, sixth in saves. Among rookie goalies, he led in GAA, tied for first in shutouts, second in SV% and saves (1141), and ranked fifth in wins. The 6-3, 210-pound netminder has yet to appear in an NHL game.
Smith-Pelly, 21 (6/14/92), appeared in 16 contests earlier this season with Anaheim, scoring 1-7=8 points with a +5 rating and two penalty minutes (PIM). In 43 games with Norfolk this season, he has scored 27-16=43 points with 29 PIM. The Scarborough, Ontario native set career highs in goals and points, and leads the Admirals in goals.
Cam Fowler is getting closer to a return to the lineup. The Ducks defenseman skated this morning in Edmonton and hopes to get in a game (or two) before the postseason begins. Fowler is recovering from a sprained MCL on March 14 at Colorado.
Anaheim and Edmonton meet for the third time in 10 days Sunday night at Rexall Place. The Ducks have earned points in eight straight games vs. the Oilers (7-0-1), most recently in a 3-2 win on April 2 at Honda Center. Anaheim owns a 45-34-7 all-time record vs. Edmonton, including a 20-18-4 mark in Alberta's capital city. The Ducks have also earned points in 12 straight games at Rexall Place, going 11-0-1 since Dec. 27, 2007.